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New Report Calls for Free First Checked Bag

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How much does it cost to not check a bag? If you remember back to earlier this month, the figure was $260 million. That was according to the TSA estimate of how much more the agency has had to spend in screening carry-ons since airlines started charging passengers for their first checked bags. The proposed fix to the budget shortfall was an increase in passenger facility charges, which would make passengers responsible for a situation the airlines had basically created.

Now, the U.S. Travel Association has released a report that recommends allowing travelers to check at least one free bag to address the issue of overburdened security checkpoints.

The report also calls on Congress to authorize the TSA to create a new trusted traveler program to speed security screenings of frequent travelers, and it encourages the airline industry and government to take a series of steps to streamline the entire airport screening process.

The U.S. Travel Association has 1,300 member organizations comprised of travel service providers, destinations, and travel associations. The airlines have their own association—the Air Transport Association (ATA)—and as you might guess, it’s not keen on the baggage recommendations. Baggage and other ancillary fees have emerged as a major source of revenue in recent years, and airlines are unlikely to give up that golden goose without a fight. According to Travel Weekly, ATA responded to the report by saying, “dictating how airlines deliver and price their products and services diminishes customer choice and competitive differentiation among carriers.”

Do you agree with the U.S. Travel Association or the ATA? Should first-checked-bag fees be eliminated to ease the crunch at security?

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